Last year, Audi revamped their S6, S7, and S8 models and stuffed an absolute monster under the hood. Gone was the legendary Lamborghini-sourced V10 in the S6 and S8 and it was replaced with a twin-turbo V8 that could propel the massive sedans to 100 km/h in under four seconds. These cars are well into supercar territory. There are a few elite buyers for whom the S7 isn’t quick enough. Naturally, Audi obliged with this 2014 Audi RS7. Never before have I driven a sedan that sounds or drives quite like this one, so my test week was pretty interesting.
The week just prior to driving the RS7, I was out on the west coast covering the Los Angeles Auto Show. While there, I was privileged to drive some of the most breathtaking canyon roads that only reaffirmed my passion for drivers’ cars. Certain unnamed manufacturers have put out cars that, while they’re absolute perfection as far as the numbers go, they feel lifeless and uninvolving to drive. Thankfully, this Audi is none of these things. Upon my return to the beginning of a Canadian winter, the RS7 was patiently waiting for me.
Naturally, being the driver I am, I put my fatigue and existing workload aside and insisted on immediately driving the car. I’m glad I did, because the ensuing days were to die for. The RS7’s steering is perfectly weighted and provides a satisfactory amount of feedback when cornering hard. Audi’s legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system does a wondrous job of keeping the big 560-horsepower sedan planted around corners. The 4.0L V8 has not one, but two turbochargers on it, and the whole shebang gets to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds. Shifting is done via Audi’s brilliant-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission. The question has continued to arise as to why the precise S-tronic double-clutch gearbox wasn’t used – the 516 lb-ft of torque is simply too much for it. As expected on a large sedan, no manual is offered. This thing is seriously, seriously fast.
When I drove the 2013 Audi S8 last year, I remember noticing that its smoothness takes away the sensation of speed. The car is undoubtedly quick, but it’s so big and cushy that you never feel like you’re going as fast as you are – a sensation that could get the aggressive driver into trouble pretty quickly. I actually prefer the S4’s slightly more involving nature to the bigger S-cars. The engine sounds like a ludicrous menace, and the exhaust doesn’t do that any favours. Up until today, the Jaguar F-Type was one of my favourite-sounding cars of all time – it has just been bested.
At idle or at a steady cruising speed, the Audi RS7 is as smooth and quiet as any other large sedan. It’s comfortable, the seats are exquisite (the stitching is meticulously done and is very easy on the eyes), and it’s virtually silent. Even with the frameless windows, wind noise is at a minimal level. In optimizing performance to make a serious competitor to the BMW M6 GranCoupé and the Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG, it’s clear that Audi has not compromised in the comfort department.
The styling of the new Audi RS7 isn’t much different than the standard-issue A7. Despite it being considered a relatively controversial design in the automotive community, it’s personally my favourite Audi to look at. It’s just so easy on the eyes with its long, raking roofline and low, hunkered-down stance. The wheels on the RS7 are a stunning set of 21” units, smoked to add to the already-aggressive looks. There are a few styling tweaks here and there, the most obvious being a blacked-out front grille sporting an “RS7” badge so your neighbours don’t doubt for a second that you bought the biggest and baddest one.
Interior room is virtually identical to the A7 and S7 models. It’s tighter on the inside than an A8, but that’s unsurprising. Rear passengers over six-feet will find it uncomfortable both in terms of headroom and legroom. The low profile of the car makes for certain compromises, and space is one of them. For two adults and two kids though, the RS7 is perfect. Plus, it will definitely make you the coolest mom or dad on the block (at least until one of the other parents shows up with their 911 Carrera).
The equipment list is exactly what one would expect for a car with an as-tested price of just under $120,000. Things like quilted leather, a sunroof (not panoramic), a huge screen with the Audi MMI interface, a power liftgate (don’t forget, the A7 is technically a hatchback), and a power-retractable rear spoiler are standard issue. The seats are heated front and rear – if you want the front seats to be cooled as well, an option package is available. I’m sure I have mentioned this in nearly every other Audi story I have written, but the Audi MMI interface is second to none. It’s simple to use, extremely ergonomic, and very responsive. Bluetooth connectivity is simple, and browsing through playlists on an iPod is absolutely effortless. My tester unfortunately didn’t come with the incredible Bang & Olufsen system I’ve experienced in other Audis – a Bose system was fitted instead.
A neat piece of technology is the touchpad by the shifter that appears to be for radio presets. This touchpad also doubles as a drawing board where one can use their finger to physically write out letters or numbers to make destination entries easier and quicker. It’s a tad gimmicky but works extremely well. BMW has implemented a similar system in the new 4-series and it also works just fine. Also adding to the list of toys is the huge MMI display that retracts into the dashboard at the touch of a button.
Unsurprisingly, there weren’t too many complaints over my test period with the Audi RS7. It’s a little big for my liking, but I would take any member of the A7 family over the A6 family based on styling alone. My next point should really go without saying – if you’re thinking of purchasing an RS7, please don’t be fuel-conscious in any way. My observed fuel consumption in combined driving (60-70% highway) was 13L/100km, and that’s on the conservative side. It has a ton of horsepower, and a ton of torque. It’s not frugal. If you desire the styling of this car but still want efficiency, Audi will gladly sell you an A7 TDI, which is a wonderful vehicle in itself.
The 2014 Audi RS7 is an utter villain. It’s positively evil and monstrous in every way imaginable. In the past year, I have put nearly ten thousand kilometers on the 2014 R8, and while its naturally-aspirated V8 is quick on its feet, it’s no comparison to the boosted beast beneath the hood of the RS7. It’s a truly amazing car that photos do no justice to. Driving one of these RS7s should be on the bucket list of every car guy around the world – it’s that absurd.
2014 Audi RS7 Gallery